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Al-Qaeda now focusing attacks on Pakistan: US

The infiltration by Al-Qaeda militants into Afghanistan has come down, Defence Secretary Robert Gates says.

world Updated: Dec 22, 2007 20:03 IST

The infiltration by Al-Qaeda militants into Afghanistan has come down as the "fighters" are now focussing on attacks against Pakistan government, the US said on Saturday.

"... The number of fighters coming across the border in RC-East is down about 40 per cent. Al-Qaeda right now seems to have turned its face toward Pakistan and attacks on the Pakistani government and Pakistani people," Defence Secretary Robert Gates said here.

"...There is no question that Al-Qaeda has re-established in some of the frontier area. But so far, we haven't seen any significant consequence of that in Afghanistan," he said.

Noting that the Pakistani army has had some success in their counterinsurgency effort in Swat, Gates said the US has been "impressed" by new Pakistan army chief Parvez Kayani and that Washington would work closely with him.

"We are impressed with this new chief and would begin a dialogue with him in terms of how we can help them do a better job in counterinsurgency through both training and equipment," he added.

However, the Defence Secretary acknowledged that there has been an increase in violence in Afghan over the past year. "But in part it has been due to much more aggressive actions on the part of the NATO alliance and the US forces that are there. The spring offensive we expected from the Taliban became NATO's spring offensive," Gates said.

"And here again I think that the challenge for 2008 will be to sustain the successes we've had, to hang on to places that we have cleared... And create the conditions in which further economic development can go forward," he added.